I am making a list of things I need/want in our house so that I can be on the lookout for great deals. As I was pondering items that would be the most compact and efficient, as I mentioned here, I decided to search some of my favorite on-line deal sites. Just in case.

Jackpot! Look what I found at Zulily for $17. 
I am already imagining paper cones filled with popcorn or sweets at a party. And I must say it will look great next to the cupcake stand I already own that was featured here. This deal ends tomorrow, so pop on over and pick one up if you are interested. Also there is $10 off a purchase of $30 or more using this code: BABIES10 at checkout. What a great deal!
Do you have a favorite find or discount website? Let me know!
Shopping at chain stores is a bit of a chore when you live in the heart of the city. I carefully bundle my trips and try to make them as efficient as possible. As a by-product we have also found that I spend less. Surprising I know, but there aren't many opportunities for me to wander Target's aisles and pick up all of those irresistible little things I just know I "need". Or at least will at some point in the next 6 months. The downside is I have to be very aware and active when the things we actually do need go on sale. To do this I have subscribed to some wonderful blogs and websites that carefully advertise sales and codes at stores such as Target, Old Navy, Gap, etc...Today I just have to make you aware of one going on at this very moment at Old Navy.

I haven't shopped at Old Navy since 2006. Seriously. Not because I have anything against the store, but I haven't been near one or motivated to drive out to a location since then. Well in the past couple of weeks I have now made two trips. I blogged about it on my best friend and my fashion blog here, so pop over and take a peek. I wanted to add that even if you don't have the coupon, they accepted the code that I read to them from the coupon! Crazy to say the least. And if you are trying to think of a reason to make a trip I would offer that you can find MANY baby items for less than $3. And very cute little outfits. So if you are like me, and have a plethora of baby showers in your future, pop over and save yourself some money. You will thank me!
Diaper Cake Steph and I made for a recent baby shower.

Chris Low Photography
I love to craft and create things. This poses a special type of challenge in the city, in a small apartment. It seems the biggest problem is my knack for crafting in all sorts of mediums. Each medium requiring their own set of "tools". I paint, charcoal, sketch, sew, make cards, embroider, bake, cook, decorate, etc... You get the point. This has led to two things happening. The first, much of my stuff is in storage and lugged out for every occasion. I keep two tubs of necessary items and everything else is in storage. The second thing that has happened is that I have developed a bit of an obsession for all things small, crafty and compact. My newest find is this adorable cupcake stand. It holds 10 cupcakes, quiches, or brownies. But best of all, it COLLAPSES! Making it a must have for my kitchen. Of course I bought it and now the conundrum has become, should I get another one? Hmmmmm.....

Wilton 307-831 13 Count Cupcake Stand
At Baby's 1st Birthday

Who wouldn't want to make cupcakes for a face like this? Chris Low Photography

Play along with us! Every Thursday we will post something we are thankful for, and I would love it if you did so as well on your blogs. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and when done regularly contentment comes into reach. And it can be anything, silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

This Thursday we are thankful for a tip and trick taught long ago to Abbey by her mother. She taught her to make a double batch of cookies, roll the other one into a cylinder and freeze. That way when you want just one or two cookies, slice them off and pop them in the oven! What a great way to prevent having temptations around the house, yet still indulging every now and then. Currently we have a low-fat chocolate chip oatmeal log in the freezer that was recently sliced up for the enjoyment of two. And it is the little things in life that make us so very thankful. Happy Thursday!

"For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. "
~ Audrey Hepburn
In our tiny apartment there is one thing missing: a dishwasher. While the charm and accessibility, not to mention price, more than make up for this tiny flaw, it is still an issue. 

When we moved in we were shown many units that had their own portable dishwashers. The concept seemed brilliant and seamless. So of course we obtained the necessary details and Kevin set out on a craigslist journey to find the perfect dishwasher. Now my husband is a resell, bargain hunter, extraordinaire. His hunt for the perfect jogging stroller is legendary; see the post here for details. That story is too good to miss. Needless to say he is very good and precise.

His hunt led to the acquisition of two different washers. The first was the size of a standard inset. The issue there, the size. It ended up obstructing the window and my view and light. The plus, it held EVERYTHING. After about two weeks of trying to make it work, it ended up being resold on craigslist. 
The Beast

The second was much smaller and fit under the end of the table. This made it discreet and me much happier. Due to its micro-ness though it had a shorter everything, including the cord and hose. For those of you unaware of the intricacies of a portable dishwasher they have a plug for an outlet and a hose that you carefully hook up to your sink. Since this one was compact in all ways lovely and nice it had to be mounted, yes mounted, to a cart that I then had to roll on our uneven floor closer to the sink. Mind you it was always full at this point. After it was done I would carefully unhook and unplug everything and then roll it back. Usually the hose continued dripping though and I would then be cleaning up a puddle every so many hours.
About how it looked, link here
Well this one lasted a little longer, about a month. Finally I put my foot down. I had found myself doing more work than it was worth. So out the dishwasher went and in returned my old dishwasher, whom I much prefer. Mind you, I am now the head assistant to the dishwasher, but still much happier with the end result.

Most Dashing Dishwasher and Assistant

When we were making our list of needs and wants for our first child we categorized items based on cost. Then we made additional lists, detailing items that we thought we could get used, or borrow and from whom, etc... This made our separate lists of To Dos more reasonable. My husband decided to take ownership of the stroller and car seat category, and both were adventures to say the least. For the moment I only have the energy to detail the Saga of the Strollers, but will tell the Tale of Twenty Car Seats soon.

Kevin isn't pushy or possessive, but when he sets his mind on a task he is determined. This was something I didn't discover until we were planning our wedding and I learned to quickly aim this determination towards something that had to be done a certain way within certain constraints. He used every bit of this stubborn determination to find the best stroller possible and in our price constraints, which were definite.

Here is the list of requirements that he greeted the craigslist world with:
* An adjustable handle. I am 5 feet tall, so most strollers hurt my back because the handles are so high. 
* VERY compact. As you will see in following posts, our space is small.
* The ability to lay down flat. We intended to only have one stroller, which meant this one needed to lay flat for an infant and for sleep when they got older.
* A car seat attachment for the first few weeks. 
* Impeccable ratings. I needed it to be light weight, as well as sturdy and reliable.
* Gender friendly and stylish. We wanted to be able to use it for additional children without being asked if it was a boy or girl every time we went out. And heck, the stylish part should go without needing an explanation!

He took this list seriously and every day would send me multiple links. Many times after calling to see if it was still available. We learned that great strollers, like great housing, goes lightning fast in the city. Ones that are under priced, well you needed to be able to look at them that day. So the hunt began, and so did the discussions. We debated how heavy was too heavy, compromised on colors and designs, took every opportunity to take one for a test drive and became those people that stare from across the street trying to figure out if it is an Uppa or a Bugaboo. Drives to the 'Burbs became a regular occurrence as did the proverbial small talk and basic questions about our pregnancy and our undeniable "excitement"(which got less exciting the 11th time around). Finally we bought one. A gorgeous black Peg Perego Viaggio, similar to the one below found on craigslist.com. 

 We brought it home, took it for walks, tested it in the car, in the elevator and at the store. We loved so much about this stroller but the more we looked at our space and considered our needs the more we were inclined to get just one stroller and to have it be a jogging stroller. Of course it would need to be a different type of sturdy as I jog on trails and up hills. So it needed to handle rough terrain and haul groceries, all while collapsing easily. These were added to our stroller crave list and we set out once again to find that "it" stroller. By this point I cringed every time the phone rang, knowing that the first words out of his mouth were going to be "so I found this stroller..." Finally, we sold the Peg Perego and found our dream stroller. It had everything we were hoping for and more. I have since convinced a number of friends to purchase one as well and haven't for one moment regretted the decision to make a jogging stroller our only stroller for the better part of the first year of parenting. Take it from me, it was worth the dozens of home visits and close to one hundred online viewings.
Our find, a lovely Bumbleride Flyer Jogging Stroller, much like the one above, but ours was in the bloom pattern, blue with yellow and brown starbursts. A perfect fit for us!

I think he agrees, "good purchase mom".

I love Monday!
I decided on the heading for my Monday night reviews after spending too much time here. Anybody else do things like that? Anyways, Sultry Synthesis really does describe these wonderful evenings with my girlfriends and this week was no different.

We tackled Fish Tacos this week and completed it, with baby in tow and notes being taken, in 45 minutes. Our goal is that all meals fit into a 30 minute window, thus dispelling the myth that great food takes a long time to prepare. Also, for many of my young professional friends, work goes late and there isn't much time to make a nice meal. And no, I am not following Rachel Ray or any other formulas. These are purely from my kitchen to  yours, adapted from years of experimentation and reading almost a hundred cookbooks. That said, fish tacos and a few tips and tricks.

We used 1.5 lbs of cod, seasoned with my favorite seafood seasoning, put on a broiler pan lined with foil in the oven at 350 degrees. While this was in the oven we made a slaw that I love. We used red and green cabbage, fresh squeezed lime juice, fresh and finely chopped jalapeƱo pepper, green onion, brown sugar and salt. On the side we finely chopped cilantro and radishes. These I commonly put on the side if there is a possibility anyone other than our family will be eating the slaw, as many people don't like either items. If it is just for us, in they go right from the start!
Everything was put in a large Tupperware and set on the stove where it could warm just a bit. Every now and then in between adding items we would put the lid on and give it a shake. This is the easiest way to keep it marinating and when you are done it goes right in the fridge for leftovers without dirtying another dish.

Pull out the fish, turn off the oven and put some corn tortillas into your already warm oven. I love these ones personally. Transfer the fish to a bowl, flake and add a dash of the seasoning above. By this time the tortillas should be warmed and ready to go!

For the finished product I always put out chopped and chunky tomatoes, salsa and FF sour cream. You can also make available some nice and crumbly Mexican cheese like Queso or Parmesan and finely chopped lettuce. Set everything out so your guests can assemble the tacos themselves (I usually do this as I go along so it is all ready at the same time) and Voila! Dinner is served.

Tips and Tricks
* Slaw can be made with MANY items, just always think: crunchy, sweet, spicy, salt and citrus. Experimentation is key and the results can be sooooo fun! I love grapefruit or oranges for my citrus to add a little punch. Red pepper flakes are great in a pinch for spice. Brown sugar dissolves quickly so I love it for my sugar, but you can use agave, honey, pineapple juice, etc... you get the point. 
* If you want your slaw to be softer and have less crunch you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, tossing in between, until desired texture is reached.
* Cut jalapeƱos last as they will make everything cut afterwards on that cutting board spicy.
* If cooking for yourself and you don't want to store the leftover cabbage feel free to just use green cabbage and add radishes for color and crunch. They come in small bunches and are inexpensive.
* For juicing items I love this handy little device.
 Bannoura's Olive Wood Lemon Juicer-Thin, 5-Inch by 1-1/2-Inch by 1-1/2-Inch

* For the foil on the broiler, fold the edges up to make sure none of the juices spill out. This makes clean up a snap. And since most fish has been frozen at some point there is bound to be some sort of juice leaking out. If you are in a hurry or don't have a pan or broiler for the fish I make a foil pocket, using two layers of foil for reinforcement, and the problem is solved. 
* Cod is done when it begins to separate and is easily flaked. Personally I always eyeball it as ovens cook differently. 
* Allot about 1/2 lb of cod for each guest.
Dirty Dishes: Cutting board (1), Knives (1), Citrus juicer (1), Spoons (2), bowls (4 small, 2 large), plates + utensils = LOW
Time: 45 minutes with teaching, 30 minutes at home
Leftover Options: quiesadillas, fish salad, slaw sandwiches, warmed slaw with rice = GOOD
Sides: Lime chips and salsa, quick corn and bean salad = OK

As for the Bachelor this week we filled out our scorecards (a recent tradition) and picked the final five. While we aren't in agrement on this, that is what makes the season so much fun! Our favorite drama queen of the moment is of course Michelle. And sadly she reminds us of that episode of How I Met Your Mother where they talk about how to spot the crazy eyes of a nightmare girlfriend (Season 2 Episode 7).  That said this season has some girls that have truly had tragedy in their lives and it makes me very grateful for all that I have been given. Who are your picks for the top five?
The bar area set up and ready to go.

Love these roses that Trader Joe's had on sale!

My sweet girlfriends celebrating my birthday this last year.

I love food and the combination of cooking and watching The Bachelor with my girlfriends on Monday nights simply makes my week. In describing this weekly occurence to Mother-In-Law (MIL) she commented that many of my cooking tricks were new to her and maybe I should lead a class like this for some of my family members. So until that happens I thought this would be a fun place to share some of our experiments.

The idea started as a part of a Christmas gift to my dear friend who wanted to master some tricks on the cooking side. Already an amazing baker, something I struggle with, she asked if we could cook every Monday. So we are making a list (which I will post) and will work our way through some of the essentials of cooking that tend to be more frightening than is necessary.

This week's challenge was Pesto, a delectable treat but many times far to high in calories and spendy for my taste. Over the years I have experimented at great length to cut calories, improve taste and in general make something I love more accessible. So here are a few tips and tricks I have learned and used over the years:

* Use what you have on hand. I make pesto with almost any leafy green, harder cheese and nuts in the pantry.  I have used spinach with frozen basil cubes. Spring greens and dried basil (just let it sit overnight). Walnuts, pecans and cashews in the place of pine nuts.  Asiago and fontina (freeze it for about 10 minutes before using) in the place of Parmesan. Improvise and taste as you go.

* There is no need for the excessive amount of olive oil. I have made pesto many times only using water and a quick bit of cooking spray to help it all come together. This past Monday we made 3 different types of pesto, used water in each and at most 1 TBS of Olive Oil. The water lets it freeze well and interestingly the comment I get most often is how creamy my pesto tastes. The best part is you can have it twice in one week without feeling guilty!

* Don't add garlic unless its going to be heated. This is mainly a personal rule after many nights of smelling garlic on everyones breath to an excessive degree. Don't get me wrong I LOVE garlic, but not everyone appreciates its residual affect. The other part of this is not feeling like you can't make pesto because you are out of garlic. It tastes great without it and doesn't dominate the scent of the room.

* Just give it a try. Tonight. When I embarked on my cooking journey 7 years ago I would keep a delicious container of pasta sauce always on hand and then embark boldly on one of my hair-brained cooking experiments. This took the pressure off and made the process more enjoyable. If it doesn't turn out the way you like it the noddles are hot so add the sauce and tell yourself that next time it will be sensational!

Our pestos for the night used pine nuts and basil with one option having garlic and the other without. The third was basil with walnuts and Asiago cheese, sans garlic. While more basic than my experiments of the past, these three ideas are great for showing the differences and for giving a base for your taste palate. If your palate is sound then your experiments will be as well.

As for the other half of our night, well there wasn't a shortage of drama. And that is all I will say about that at this moment.<wink>
Taken a few days later so the color is distorted. Pine nuts on left, Walnut on right.

Recreated days later with for left-overs with mushrooms and tomatoes.

Happy Tuesday. For our household yesterday was one of our favorite days, affectionately know as "Game Day!" We greet each other with this sentiment as we greet the day. Our son walks around saying "Touch Down" and we all wear the colors of our Alma Mater, green and gold. This game day was different though and we were very excited. I wanted to share a major victory with you. In preparing for our gathering and celebration I did something I have been striving to do for a long time....

Yep, the night before I had all the platters out, labeled, serving utensils included! The decorations were almost completely finished and all the food that was able to be was prepared, and ready to go. For those that don't know I have been throwing parties for years and still haven't mastered this absolutely crucial skill. I think it is because secretly I thrive on stress and deadlines, the rush of adrenaline is one of the "fun" parts of throwing a party for me. Now that I have a child though, this is no longer an option. And the morning of the game when I woke up and played with my son rather than running around trying to prep for our party, I knew that I have finally hit my stride. Trust me, I will never go back to my old ways of throwing a party. 

One final bragging note and then I am done. Our sweet son fell asleep after hours of entertaining a crowd. He stayed asleep in his daddy's arms even amidst the cheers, high fives done over his head and the squeal of our happy duck lips. Moments like these are worth every painstaking hour of sleep training, vacuuming during naps, decisions to not babyify the room for optimal sleep, etc... Maybe we just got lucky, but I know that our hard work is at least part of his great ability to sleep through moments like these! 

Sleepy duck. He is totally out!
Ducks, you made us proud and we will continue to stand by you through the good and the bad. Here's to next year and all it will bring! GOOOOOO Ducks!

We found out we were expecting shortly after the holidays. As we proceeded to tell our loved ones the good news there were many questions that they had for us. The most common one was: "So where will you be moving?" We were prepared to answer the more traditional questions. The ones that pushed to find out how we were feeling about this new change, what our hopes were, etc... Unfortunately we hadn't really considered the one that was on everyone's mind. This led to many interesting conversations, to say the least.

We began by making a list of our needs. Then started thinking about the process of having a child, in our lives. This led to the discussion about how much people seem to change when they have kids. And lo and behold we would every time end up at the same place, adamant to be the exceptions to the rule. As we surveyed our oasis in the city we couldn't imagine leaving. This led to many nights of measuring, rearranging furniture and tons of discussions about converting our pantry into a sleeping chamber for the baby. As the cold winter dragged its feet and our unit stayed at its normal chilly level we made the earth shattering decision to move. But not out of the city, just from our oasis. 

The path of picking a place with a baby due in a few short months was a treacherous one. There were lists on top of lists. Compromises and firm non-negotiables. Many conversations that ended with "but that just isn't possible with a stroller!". Abbey became an expert at quickly measuring a room and knowing what would work or wouldn't without consulting her notes. Then at last we found our nest. It ended up being blocks away from our old place, less expensive with a better layout and more space. No more pantry nursery drawings for us!

We moved at the 8 month mark and were ready for baby with little time to spare. Kevin started Pharmacy school, the baby arrived safely and then the real work of Raising A Baby In The City started. It has since been a year and half since we moved in and with another baby on the way and the same set of questions circulating (although this time with more urgency) we thought it would be fun to document our journey and all of the moments of pleasure and insanity.

So please, ask those questions you have always wanted to ask the mommy pushing the stroller laden with groceries up the hill. We have been asked most everything under the sun and relish every chance to answer them. And if you to are raising a baby in the city and have a suggestion, PLEASE, SHARE. We cherish all the suggestions we can get. 

From our humble abode to yours, it looks to be a wonderful journey, thanks for joining us.